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Last modified on June 27th, 2018 at 11:07 am
Looking for places to eat and things to do in Tucson?
If you’re just visiting – or if you’ve lived in Tucson forever – there’s always more to explore. We’ve mapped out a whole day of things to do centered around the good eats at Mercado San Agustin. Take a day and enjoy the food, activities, and views this area has to offer. Although, we’ve suggested a number of spots, we invite you to pick and choose a route that interests you. All we ask is that you have some fun and fall just a little bit more in love with Tucson.
The perfect combination for outdoor fitness and limitless city views, Tumamoc Hill lays out a steep, paved path to enjoy at sunrise or sunset. Start your morning early and give yourself time to hike and enjoy the view. If you’re visiting on a weekday, be sure to get your hike in before 7:30am or after 5:30pm. The University of Arizona uses Tumamaoc for education and research during business hours. Once you’ve conquered the hill, keep an eye out for the occasional Purple Tree Truck at the bottom for an organic smoothie or acai bowl.
For more information, visit tumamoc.arizona.edu.
Head on over to Mercado San Agustin, the hub for this route’s food and drink. It’s time for a pastry and a good cup of coffee, and no doubt, you’ve earned it. You can’t go wrong with Stella Java and La Estrella Bakery, especially when they’re located just feet from one another. Both indoor and outdoor seating offers a relaxing way to continue your morning.
Once you’ve fueled up and maybe had a second cup of coffee, you’ll have a chance to see what else the Mercado has to offer. Closest to Stella Java, San Agustin Trading Company offers handcrafted moccasins for all ages as well as many other great southwest finds. Across the courtyard, stop in to Transit Cycles for a look at bikes and accessories for any commuter or cyclist. Next door at Mast, admire a wide variety of handmade goods from local artists and find several pieces that celebrate the uniqueness of the desert.
For more information, visit mercadosanagustin.com.
Just behind the Mercado you’ll find one of Tucson’s most unique neighborhoods with European style courtyards. Don’t reach for your keys just yet because you’ll want to enjoy this area on foot, and it’s just a short walk away. Bring your camera along because there’s no shortage of good photo ops. Stroll through this neighborhood slowly and with no agenda, keeping an eye out for interesting doors, color, architecture, and desert plants.
Walk back to the Mercado and choose between two options for lunch. If you’re in the mood for a salad or panini, head to Blu: A Wine and Cheese Stop. Choose from a courtyard seat or a spot inside the shop where you can learn more about all things cheese. If Mexican food sounds better, hop in line at Seis Kitchen and grab a seat while you wait for your tortas or tacos. Better yet, go for the Mexico City Style Quesadilla, a large handmade corn tortilla stuffed with cheese, green chiles, and your choice of filling. You can’t go wrong with either lunch option; both places use fresh, local ingredients.
Hop in the car because just a short drive away is Mission Garden, a living agricultural museum filled with edible desert plants with a mission to protect and preserve the agricultural heritage of the region. It’s located at the base of Sentinel Peak and has been recognized as ‘Tucson’s Birthplace.” A group of volunteers is working towards creating a space that honors the area’s history and culture. They’re open on Saturday with varying hours throughout the year, but you can also schedule a guided tour throughout the week. Call ahead to plan your visit.
For more information, visit tucsonsbirthplace.org.
After your visit, drive to the peak above “Tucson’s Birthplace,” Sentinel Peak, otherwise known as “A” Mountain, which overlooks Mission Garden. Depending on the time of year, the “A” for the University of Arizona on the side of the mountain might be a different color. At the top, park and get out of the car to enjoy the view and snap a picture or two.
It’s only right to end this trip with a visit to an area of the Mercado you probably saw earlier and wished was on this list. Agustin Kitchen features New American cuisine, many local ingredients, and is open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Happy hour starts at 3pm, so sit back and have a handcrafted cocktail and some appetizers before dinner. If you didn’t visit Blu earlier in the day for lunch, consider trying their meat and cheese plate as an appetizer before your meal.
For more information, visit agustinkitchen.com.
At some point throughout the day, you’re going to need a sweet treat and we’ve got two options for you. If you’re looking to cool down, try a Raspado, Mexican-style shaved ice topped with fruit, from Sonoran Sno-Cones. Handmade Mexican sweets and tamales from Dolce Pastello also make for a great snack. Cakes are sold whole or by the slice. If you don’t have time to fit all of it in, make sure you come back and try their Tres Leches cake, a house specialty.